February 15, 2013 9:28am PT by Scott Feinberg
'The Hollywood Reporters,' Ep. 8: Getting in Tune With the Best Original Song Oscar (Video)
The Hollywood Reporter has released the eighth installment of its weekly web series The Hollywood Reporters. In each episode, THR awards analyst Scott Feinberg, the series' host, chats with colleagues from THR's newsroom about different aspects of the awards race. This week, Feinberg was joined by music editor Shirley Halperin for a discussion about this year's nominees for the best original song Oscar.
Feinberg and Halperin, like virtually everyone else, believe that the clear frontrunner is the title song of Skyfall, performed by the international singing sensation Adele (who composed its music and lyrics with Paul Epworth). In fact, Halperin calls the 24-year-old, who has already claimed a Golden Globe (for "Skyfall") and Grammy (best pop solo performance for "Set Fire to the Rain") over the past month, a "shoo-in" to win. It would be a historic victory, since no song from a Bond film has ever been rewarded, despite the fact that there have been many great ones over the franchise's half-century. Adele will perform this song on Oscar night, and several of the others are likely to be heard, as well, as it was recently announced that that the show will include a 007 tribute. Seventy-six-year-old Dame Shirley Bassey, who recorded the themes to Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979), will be part of it.
The highest-profile rival for "Skyfall" is probably "Suddenly" from Les Miserables, the music of which was composed by Claude-Michel Schönberg with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil. It was performed in the film by best actor nominee Hugh Jackman. Halperin argues that the song, which barely runs for two minutes, is "disconnected from the rest of Les Mis" and "a blatant play for an Oscar." She also submits that the live singing approach employed for all of the film's songs was not entirely successful, as added realism and immediacy sometimes came at the price of aural quality. (If Amanda Seyfried had performed her songs on American Idol, she cracks, Seyfried would not have made it to Hollywood.)
Oscar host Seth MacFarlane is a nominee in the category for "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from his film Ted. He wrote the lyrics, Walter Murphy composed the music and Norah Jones performed the tune in the movie. Though he's certainly a long shot, MacFarlane could become the second person to win on the same night he hosted the show; David Niven won best actor for Separate Tables 54 years ago. Halperin emphasizes that he "does have musical talent" and that it will probably be employed, in one way or another, during the Oscars telecast.
Finally, Halperin expresses some surprise that the category's other two slots were claimed by "Pi's Lullaby," a tune for Life of Pi featuring music by Mychael Danna (who is also a best original score nominee for the film) and lyrics by Bombay Jayashri, and "Before My Time," a tune for the documentary Chasing Ice featuring music and lyrics by J. Ralph and performed in the film by Scarlett Johansson, of all people. She feels that songs performed by Jon Bon Jovi ("Not Running Anymore" in Stand Up Guys), Katy Perry ("Wide Awake" in Perry's concert doc Katy Perry: Part of Me) and Keith Urban ("For You" in Act of Valor) were at least as good.
Considering that this category has been won in the past decade by Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and Three Six Mafia's "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," on the one hand, and A.R. Rahman and Gulzar's "Jai Ho" and Bret McKenzie's "Man or Muppet" on the other, any outcome is truly possible.